Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I'm running away...

"I'm running away".... that's what I heard my latest foster teen say to me only a few days into being in my home.

"Huh" I thought to myself I've never heard a teenager say they were going to run away before. I went back through the day thinking about what could have gone wrong that had brought her to this point but there wasn't really anything.

However, as I was looking at this defiant teenager on my couch about to bolt out the front door I thought I used to be her. Not that her life story matched mine at all but I know that anger, that fear, that hatred of not having control over my own life. I know that face, the face of determination that says you can't make me do anything....ANYTHING you are powerless!

Her whole body was screaming at me "you don't matter, I don't care" but deeper inside of her I saw the places she was hiding. The child inside of her that wanted to be held and told she was amazing, that she was worth being chosen.

In that moment I said "ok, is there anything I can get you before you go? Do you need food or something to drink? " NO!" she screamed and walked out the door, with an added "I'm never coming back".

2 hours later she was brought back and was begging to be put in Juvenile detention. The officer politely (not so politely) said you have to commit a crime to be put in Juve. "Well then I'm going to go do that now!" Her defiance was the wall to keep the caring out. As the door shut I asked her again "Are you hungry would you like anything to eat before you leave?" She said "No! but can I use the bathroom?"

"Sure no problem!" I stated. At this time my daughter woke up from her nap to the raging teen and because my daughter had said some not so fun things to her at the beginning of the day I made her apologize. As my daughters apologizing and begging, this determined teenager, not to run away again I see the crack in the armor. Ever so slightly but there it was a tear. As she is rummaging around through her thrashed room she began to cry.

I pull my daughter back and we go back into the living room. I explain to my daughter that we must give her the freedom to leave if she so desires we will not control her. It only took a few minutes but she was out again asking if it was alright that she stayed. " No problem, are you hungry? I ask again. "Yes, I'm really hungry. "

I wish the story ended there however in real life we don't snap out of years of pain in an instant. To be rejected all your life then finally find someone who can aim their love at you unconditionally takes reality to a whole other level.

Less then a week later out of the blue, later in the evening she says "I'm going to run away." At this point I'm getting the feeling that she thrives on drama and rejection so my position is, don't make a big deal out of it at all! I said to her, " ok, is there anything I can get you before you leave?" " No, I'm not coming back this time."

There she went out my front door again, as she left I declared that the angels would stop her at every corner that she would make decisions that would protect her life and that she would be able to keep herself safe by making wise decisions. Many times in the last week I would tell her, "You know that you are choosing this? No one is forcing you to choose this path you are the one doing this to yourself." No one had ever given her that responsibility before. She loved to watch people scramble to rescue her but I as a foster parent I am not the Rescuer.

It's a hard concept to come to grips with because you see how other peoples choices have affected their lives so drastically and our deep momma hearts want to make everything better right away. However, our job isn't shield them from consequences but it's to be a support system when they are facing those consequences.

At 2am that morning I hear a knock on the back door. There she was standing there by herself asking to come home. All I said that night was sleep well. No lecture or rejection because the prodigal has returned. Many times we are worried about the action instead of rejoicing in the repenting.

Later on she tells my social worker that everything that she was planning on doing that night that would have landed her in Juvie she stopped. She said " I chose to do something different then break the law". You can't tell me angles aren't real and that God doesn't have a plan for this kid's life.

Again I wish the story ended there, but pain is a hard thing to over come and we either are ready to face it or we are ready to run. This time it was a Sunday morning on my way out to work. "I'm running away and I'm not coming back",  She told me. She asked for me to escort her out the front door so my daughter wouldn't see her leave. (However, my daughter the genius, knew she had run away again) "Is there anything I can get you before you go?" I ask per usual at this point. "No" she stated.

This time she had taken something that didn't belong to her. I found out about it later as I knew I had put it in my purse and it was no longer there. After work I got a call saying she turned herself in and wanted to be pick up. So, I drove up to get her. She was hoping for someone else but she got me so I asked for her to return the stolen item and immediately she did. There was no screaming or cussing or anger.

However, this time she refused to return with me. We came up with a compromise after a few hours of driving around the city. She stayed at the county office for the night. At this point I had to unveil my plan, " I can not keep her safe in my environment and because of that I don't think our home is the best fit for her." I didn't attach blame or guilty (she had plenty of that) I just knew for her level of need I wasn't able to provide the care she required.

In her past there had been a lot of homes and many of which she blew the roof off (figuratively) so there was no requirement for her to clean up her messes, the social workers did that for her. This time I needed her to come back, clean her room, say goodbye, and receive the gift the Lord had told me to get for her.

The journal I handed her had a letter written in it. Though I don't remember everything I wrote in it I do remember one line: When you come to the end of yourself, and no one will help you out anymore I want you to read this journal because the only person in the whole universe that can help you is Jesus.

In many ways I was writing to my younger self. When everything falls apart and you don't know where to run to anymore because you have run so long and to so many different places theres only one place that will bring you back and thats the arms of Jesus.

The person driving the car told me as she red the letter she openly sobbed. In that moment I knew she had the encounter that God had made just for her. Was she completely free? No. Does she have a long road ahead of her? Absolutely, but she encountered hope, love, and no fear of punishment.

Jesus said "Let the little children come to me" He didn't say " Force them to be a Christian" "Tell them they are so horrible they have to repent." He said "Let them" meaning when Jesus is displayed it's impossible for children to resist Him.  As a foster parent I'm not here to control, manipulate, demand, or force. They have already experienced that enough in their lives. I'm here to bring freedom that looks like facing consequences for their actions, love them through the rough places, and create clear boundaries to make them feel safe.

Many people ask me "how do you take in teenagers? I would never take them in they are too hard." I just smile because to me I'm ministering to a younger version of me. I'm telling these kids everything I wanted to hear from my parents when I was a teen. You are valuable, important, worth it, and your voice matters. This makes what I do easy because I too said in my heart many times "I'm running away....." 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lost Child

It's been a while since I've had the brain space to think about what my emotional state is. Since taking in my latest foster daughter I've been so focused on getting her to a place where she can function and feel safe I've had no real time to walk through my own emotional process.

With arms swinging and non-stop chattering my latest 2 year old foster daughter came into my environment. Why I said yes to her was only a supernatural yes because in hindsight I would have said I'm not ready, equipped, able ect.. the list goes on with excuses that I could make up but I said yes...

I said yes to chaos, brokenness, pain, and disfunction being in my environment. At the age of 2 this child had gone through so much loss, pain, and tragedy that people who have lived their whole life with privilege and favor wouldn't have touched half of what she had experienced.

I want to be honest here and say after a week of her being in my home I had the strongest doubts of my ability as a parent. Mind you I have a degree in psychology, have worked with children of all types for over 10 years, and have taken numerous classes on broken children and yet in the midst of her extreme behavior, I was the lost child. Lost on how to help her, how to love her, how to keep my adopted daughter safe, and lost on how Jesus would ever be able to reach her in her pain that was so deep there seemed to be no end.

While talking with her therapist I admitted my lostness and told her that because we had not bonded she came in as an enemy into my home. Her brokenness threatened my daughter, our peace, my physical house, my puppy and the list goes on. There's a reason we birth babies, because those cute innocent faces we fall madly in love with and so by the age of 3 when they are exercising their right to be powerful we have that bond to pull on. I did not have that bond with my foster daughter.

In my utter weakness not knowing how to keep her safe, how to reach her,  or how to release healing over her I cried out to God. This journey He told me was not about the immediate miracle. It's about the miracle that unfolds over time. Its about the moments, the split seconds of connection, those are the places where God gets in.

This placement has a great ending, God got through in spite of me. Her turn around was night and day different. As she will be going back to her birth family I'm full of joy for her return. She knows what peace is and what self-control feels like. I'm not sad for her departure because I can see the earnest teachability of her birth family to help her become the success she was created to be.

I fought for her and gave her every chance I could to get her help that she would need to be successful. I'm so tired but I learned something about the God I serve. He loves the broken (which in this situation included me). In many ways He protected my adopted daughters heart through it all. I've seen her turn moments of being threatened into opportunities of  being a generous leader. She's fully aware that her new playmate is only temporary which, for her a good thing.

While I've now experienced a couple days of her not being in my house hold I can recognize that through it all God got His way. I'm re-establishing the connection that seemed to have been strained with my adopted daughter through this journey. As I'm explaining to her who I am and how God made me, to her she's starting to realize that this world is bigger than her.

When you pursue the broken children of the world it's not a hobby or a momentary desire, it's a call. Not many people can have open homes, arms, or hearts to kids who manifest their internal pain on the outside. For me I know when I get to heaven there will be no broken children to hold only glorified beings so this is my call that I know has eternal value. What is your call? Does it bring temporary glory or eternal reward?

Through my weakness He's made strong and even though at times I felt like a lost child I was reminded about whose I was, why I was there, and that this is what I was created to do. To help the lost child is to find the lost child in you and connect them to the Father who redeems all things.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Comfort, Comfort My People

If you have been in church for any length of time you've learned to associate comfortable with a negative feeling. I remember vividly sitting in services where the preacher was preaching against being comfortable. You're not affective in the Kingdom if you're living comfortable, it's a badge of honor and Christianity to be in a constant state of being "uncomfortable". Many times I made the vow to myself and God that I would never live a comfortable Christian life I was going to be the radical.

Again I will preface this by saying if all you do in you walk with the Lord is show up on Sunday and warm a seat then you're probably missing out on the 'fun' part of the Faith. However I live in a culture where everyone is radical. I do understand that not everyone gets that from their body but around here every moment of everyday someone is doing something that God told them to and making the world a better place.

Just recently the Lord started to highlight the word Comfort. Unconsciously, I immediately associated the word with a negative emotion. The many sermons for not being comfortable settled into my subconscious and I wouldn't even let the Lord reveal what He wanted to. Finally I surrendered to the revelation and God changed my perspective completely.

As I'm working with children who have had major trauma and pain in their short young life I realize that comfort is actually a heaven idea. There are so many scriptures on comfort. The Holy Spirit is the comforter! The power that's in comfort is beyond natural. Comfort heals, sets free, and brings restoration.

The only people that can give comfort to the broken are people who are comfortable. If I'm living in a constant state of tension, anxiety, and on the edge pushing the envelop I'm not in a place to give something I don't have. There are many days now where I stay home with my adopted daughter and now foster daughter and we sit by the fire wrapped in warm fuzzy blankets with warm fuzzy clothing on. That moment of comfort helps to calm the anxiety and tension. I have to say I'm still on the journey on the power of comfort and it's connotations to healing to the orphan spirit but there's something to bring a traumatized child into an environment of comfort.

When we live in a place of peace and comfort we are ready to hand it out to those who come across our worlds who need the healing power of comfort. Here are a couple of verses to meditate on about comfort.

Psalms 23
Psalms 71:20-21
Isaiah 40:1
Matthew 5:4
Romans 15:4
2 Corinthians 1:3

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Are you the best choice?

It all started long ago this idea that we as single people have to wait to walk out certain parts of our destiny till we are married. I have to make a personal statement here I want to me married and I believe with all my heart that it's part of my destiny.   I know many think you have to wait  so I want to set into perspective, I believe everything needs to be taken in balance. I understand that God says to us directly that we will do certain things after we are married but a lot of people (especially women) don't believe they are capable to walk out their destiny till they are married.

Last week I was talking to a young woman whose heart was to do foster care but she was warned against doing it as a single mom. "It's best that there are 2 parents in the home." was their advice. While I agree the best solution is that both parents are in the home and healthy I want to challenge that statement.

Just recently I was placed with a little girl who came from a world of hurt. How humans can do the things like this to another human I will never understand. As I'm reviewing her short but heavy history I have a realization that God placed her in my home to have the best shot at healing the wounds as possible.

Because I said yes to my destiny and didn't wait till I was married I've adopted a child who otherwise would have been bounced around from foster home to foster home and now another child will have a chance at encountering Jesus. Every place this kiddo went before me was unable to give her what she needed. I'm not saying I'm the solution but Jesus is. One person in the Kingdom, who carries the Spirit of Adoption, can completely shift an entire bloodline and destiny of an orphan. Would you want someone to rescue you when you are in the worst possible situation or would you want them to wait till they are married?

I get it, you're saying but ........ xyz. Whatever your excuse or reason for not stepping forward and saying yes to your destiny lets ask this question is it because you think you can't do it or God can't. People ask me all the time how do you it? My answer is..... I don't know. I honestly have no idea how I do it because I don't God does. Sounds pretty cliche but its' true. When I imagined my life before a baby I didn't think I would make it. When I imagined having 2 toddlers in my home at the same time I didn't imagine making it but when I stepped out and did God showed up.

Is God tell you to wait or is your fear telling you to? There are babies/ kids/ teens out there now who need someone anyone who knows God, loves Jesus, hears His voice, lives a Kingdom lifestyle to break their bonds and free them from their pain we will wait to have everything line up just right or will we step out and say yes?

You, a powerful Kingdom carrier can do it! God has not given you a spirit of fear but love! You are more than enough, you are more then some of these kids have ever had in their entire life. Nothing is impossible! I believe in the power of God and trust Him with my destiny so much that I live in the yes. When God shuts it down I know that it's not the right time. God is faithful in every little detail of my life He has never failed me He won't fail you. I encourage you to step out, be bold and say yes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Soul Ties - A slow march to the end

While this post may not seem relevant to adoption/foster care I would say through my limited world view it has a lot to do with it. Soul ties are a huge part of unhealthy behavior amongst foster children because of their past, there was never a healthy example of valuing one's self and no picture of covenant.

For the brief time that I had been placed with my teen foster daughter I started to see something that I hadn't seen before. There was a deep tie she had with someone in her life who was not only unhealthy for her but in many ways toxic. Neither one of them are to blame for their toxic relationship because neither of them knew any better or any different. When you don't know there's another way you won't know there's a way out of what you're in. That's why abused women stay in abusive relationships.

This relationship in her life proved to me that her deep need for connection, protection, and family would be paid at whatever cost she could afford. She was never wanted, cared for, chosen, loved, or valued and with all that this person demonstrated those priceless desires in her heart so she would do whatever she could to connect and protect that connection. As I observed her deep soul tie to this person I was instantly taken back to my teen years. I was right there with her. I found someone who fulfilled all those needs except it was empty in the end. Though I can't say I came from any similar background as she did that same desire to be loved, valued, connected to, seen.... was very familiar to me.

No matter what I wanted to say to her about the futility of this soul connection I realized that this was her way of staying alive. Maybe more figuratively then physically but, maybe that too. She needed this unhealthy connection through it all because it was the only connection that she had that told her she was something.

As I was spending time with the Lord about her I felt the Lord say " Soul ties have an end date." He continued to show me that soul ties because they are forged out of a need to self serve would never last, but a covenant relationship was formed from the nature of God. With covenant commitments, because it is formed from the nature of God it has a lifespan of eternity as long as the boundaries and characteristics of covenant are adhered to by those joined in covenant.

In this moment I realized my goal to stay connected. Once my teen lost that soul tie she would need a fall back family. Her fierce independence was emboldened by the fact she was connected but if that connection's time ran out the reality of her loss would quickly turn into a spiral. While she was in my environment I demonstrated as much as I was able to her value and her worthiness of being chosen and being loved. Many times that demonstration threatened that deep soul tie connection she had but I kept my love aimed towards her no matter how much she ran, raged, or fought it because I wanted her to know she was worth it.

People often ask me about having a teen in my home and I have to admit that often times it felt like having a roommate. I will never be her mother but I can be family when she needs it. There were moments where I thought " I have no idea what I'm doing" but in reality I think about that with my 3 year old all the time. Love is the key, not preaching at them, controlling their behavior, or demanding them to fit into some box. To love the orphan is to lay down your agenda, to commit to a covenant. You see, in my covenant with God I pursue what I see in His heart. What's in God's heart? What is He passionate about? For you it might be different but I see the orphan and widow in His heart. Being in this covenant with God means I pursue the desires of His heart to serve and love what He loves.

Soul ties are the Ishmael's of covenant. In the presence of a covenant soul ties pale in comparison. My desire is that through being in covenant with God and with my adopted daughter my foster teen saw something different, something hopeful.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In the Land of Teenagers

Well it happened, I became a mom again or maybe a friend I don't know what you call me when they come fully grown. Pained at the world and full of judgment I got placed with my first teen a couple weeks ago. I have no illusions about teenagers, I was one. I was an angry one, rebellious in all ways, hate spewing, bitter, the stuff of parents nightmares. I remember the feelings of being trapped by expectations that I could never fulfill and connections I could never make. I remember… So what was I doing with a teenager.

It has been a ride. As many foster parents have warned me teens are a whole other deal especially in foster care. They are something that should not come out in daytime. So here I am a mom or just a grown up to this very grown up young lady who for all intense and purpose has her whole world put together. She has a plan, a plan to escape all she needs is that magical age where the government gives her wings and she gets to fly or at least that's her fantasy.

I remember that feeling, when I turn 18 my whole world will be different I will be free. Yet there was another side to her that many would not see if they tied her down to strict rules and regulations. This need for family, for love. No matter how much she wants it from her significant other she's still missing that mother and most of all the Father in her life. Just by being here in my atmosphere she sees a life that's possible.

When I restarted my journey of being a foster parent that Lord told me clearly that this would be all about redemptive justice. Redemptive justice is a fancy term for bringing Gods original plan back to form. With a broken family being completely restored all the pain caused healed and redemption being gloriously displayed through deep family reunification.

With the newest member of my house I didn't see how that was going to happen. With her short stay in my home and her non-communication with her birth family I didn't see the redemption, until one day. "I've never seen anyone parent the way you do. You're so patient with Bella you never yell at her." As I heard those words come from this beautiful young woman I knew instantly that justice was being released in that moment.

No one had ever demonstrated peace through parenting moments in her world. The Lord told me in that moment that she would always remembered how I parented Bella and it would break the cycles that had gone on in her birth family. Redemptive justice, redeeming what the enemy through fear and pain had stolen from her. Maybe she will never talk with me again after she leaves my home but at least she's seen love in action.

As I've aimed radical kindness at her and those she carries close I can hear the Father calling her heart. Maybe not today or even tomorrow but someday she will remember the moment she saw love and felt safe. If that's all we can give to these teens who have been tossed aside they will remember Jesus because He is the kindness they are looking for the fulfillment of their deepest desires.

So as a mom or a friend to a teen who is on her path to her true Love here I stand in the gap. Praying in the moment where Love breaks through, where hope rises, and where freedom rings.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A New Journey

Many times I often think about the time I used to be able to use the bathroom in peace, without a little person banging on the door because they are scared or want something or have hurt themselves. I can't even remember a time without a child in my life anymore. Being a parent utterly changes you.

I'm not going to lie and say this has been an easy journey. Far from it, but is it worth it? Yes, more than anything it's worth it. Having a child in your life is a source of revelation about who you are on the inside. Long gone are the days where I can deny my process and pretend I have it together. Many moments I have failed as a parent and many moments I have basked in the victory of many years of hard work and studying.

You see before I was a parent I was an expert. I studied developmental psychology, I took parenting classes, and I taught children. When I became a parent I became a novice at everything. Especially when it came to age 2 and 3. I knew nothing, absolutely everything I thought I knew flew out the window. I think maybe because I thought I was an expert I was lead to believe that no little tiny human being could beat me but beat me she did.

Even after all that I'm here to confess in the most beautiful way possible that I am an amazing mom. Not because of what I know or don't know but because I choose to pursue my child. I've heard many mothers doubt themselves, condemn themselves, and through their failure question their sanity or character but I'm here to say we are amazing.

I chose to be a mom. Not inferring that you didn't but I decided that there were way too many children without parents who needed someone to hold them, encourage them, teach them, and love them into their greatness. I told God at the beginning of this adoption journey that if He could use the little money I had, the 2 arms and 2 legs that I had to help a child become their best that I was here. I gave Him my 2 loaves and 2 fishes and He gave me a baby girl who is more amazing then I could have ever dreamed.

My daughter has pushed me to the max of love, of sanity, of willpower, and of crying out to God. There's no journey like being a parent. Truly it's a gift from God. I really believe with all my heart that parenthood is the kindness of God on our life. It's an opportunity for us to learn to love more then we could when we only had ourselves to look out for. As I gush about how amazing parenthood is I have to be so real about how in the moment of parenting a screaming 2 year old my self control flies out the window and I have said things I only thought would stay in my parents mouths. Humility has been my friend, my enemy, and my last resort. Through all that I'm learning about the greater capacity that God has created in me to love.

Adoption is a continued journey even after all the paperwork and court appointments are through. I'm continually teaching my daughter about adoption and how I'm not her birth mother but I'm her forever mommy who loves her very much. We talk about siblings and birth father. The hardest thing for her 3 year old brain to understand is why all her other friends have fathers and she doesn't. I walk her through that process about how we are praying for an adoptive daddy for her and that her birth father lives far away in another city. In her language she describes this more of a fact then an emotional pain. Which for me is a satisfaction in a sense because I long for the father she has never had. No mattered how much I've declared, prayed, and stood on the promises for her future daddy my heart longs for that moment for her. The moment when she realizes that she too has that special person in her life that can be called dad.

These are mountains that we still have to face in our journey but they will not define or conquer us. All that being said I've decided and have felt the invitation to start again. I've applied again to be a foster parent because I really believe that what I have and the family that my daughter and I have started can foster healing and family. Family is where our worst comes out because it's where we were created to be loved and healed.

I feel so strongly that this journey will be less about adoption and more about redemptive justice. I will blog more about my revelation about redemptive justice but I wanted to update everyone about my journey to this point. I have the space, time, and finances to take in more kids and God knows that if He gives space I will open it up to kids who need a family. Whether we are a forever family or a step into their future I don't know but we are here and ready to pour love on whoever walks through our door.

I'm excited to see who God will bring into our lives. As always, thank you for the prayers, love, and support that you have shown to Bella and I. May God bless you on your own journey to taking care of the widow and orphan.